Ch. 10 Practice Test Questions

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Which of the following general statements about Earth’s atmosphere is not true?

The sea level temperature depends primarily on the total amount of gas in our atmosphere.

Suppose that Earth’s ice caps melted, but everything else about the Earth’s surface and atmosphere stayed the same. What would happen to Earth’s average surface temperature?

The surface temperature would increase.

Which of the following best describes how the greenhouse effect works?

A planet’s surface absorbs visible sunlight and returns this absorbed energy to space as infrared light. Greenhouse gases slow the escape of this infrared radiation, which thereby heats the lower atmosphere.

All the statements below are true. Which one gives the primary reason why the surface of Venus today is some 450°C hotter than the surface of Earth?

Venus has a much stronger greenhouse effect than Earth.

Which of the following statements about Earth’s troposphere is not generally true?

It is the layer of the atmosphere in which ozone absorbs dangerous ultraviolet light from the Sun.

In very general terms, how do the temperature structures of the atmospheres of Venus and Mars differ from that of Earth?

They lack ultraviolet-absorbing stratospheres.

Does Venus have auroras around its poles, like Earth? Why or why not?

No, because it lacks a global magnetic field.

All the following statements are true. Which one explains why convection can occur in the troposphere but not in the stratosphere?

Temperature declines with altitude in the troposphere but increases with altitude in the stratosphere.

Which of the following is not caused by the Coriolis effect on Earth?

Water going down a drain swirls in opposite directions in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Why is the Coriolis effect so weak on Venus?

Because Venus rotates so slowly.

All of the following have occurred over long periods of time on Earth. Which one is not thought to have played a major role in long-term changes in Earth’s climate?

A gradual rise in the atmospheric content of oxygen.

Why do we think that Venus has so much more atmospheric gas than Earth?

Most of the gases that have been released from volcanoes on Earth later returned to the surface.

Why is thermal escape of atmospheric gas much easier from the Moon than from Earth?

Because the Moon’s gravity is so much weaker than Earth’s.

Observations indicate that the Moon has water ice in craters near the poles. Where do scientists suspect this water came from?

Ice brought by comet impacts long ago.

All the following statements about Mars are true. Which one might have led to a significant loss of atmospheric gas to space?

Mars lost any global magnetic field that it may once have had.

What makes us think that Mars must once have had an atmosphere that was warmer and had higher surface pressure?

The atmosphere is too cold and thin for liquid water today, yet we see evidence of flowing water in the past.

Which of the following best explain what we think happened to outgassed water vapor on Venus?

Ultraviolet light split the water molecules, and the hydrogen then escaped to space.

What would happen to Earth if we somehow moved our planet to the orbit of Venus?

Earth would suffer a runaway greenhouse effect and become as hot or hotter than Venus.

Deuterium is much more abundant on Venus than Earth. What do we think this fact tells us about Venus?

That it has lost a tremendous amount of water as a result of molecules being split by ultraviolet light and the hydrogen escaping to space.

Why does Earth have so little carbon dioxide in its atmosphere compared to Venus?

Earth has just as much carbon dioxide as Venus, but most of it is locked up in carbonate rocks rather than being free in the atmosphere.

Which characteristic of Earth explains why we have an ultraviolet-absorbing stratosphere?

the existence of photosynthetic life

Which two factors are critical to the existence of the carbon dioxide (CO2) cycle on Earth?

plate tectonics and liquid water oceans

Suppose Earth were to cool down a little. How would the carbon dioxide cycle tend to restore temperatures to normal?

Cooler temperatures lead to slower formation of carbonate minerals in the ocean, so carbon dioxide released by volcanism builds up in the atmosphere and strengthens the greenhouse effect.

According to current science, why didn’t oxygen begin to accumulate in the atmosphere for more than a billion years after life appeared on the Earth?

Oxygen released by life was removed from the atmosphere by chemical reactions with surface rocks until the surface rock could absorb no more.

Earth has been gradually warming over the past few decades. Based on a great deal of evidence, scientists believe that this warming is caused by _____.

human activities that are increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere

Which of the following correctly lists the terrestrial worlds in order from the thickest atmosphere to the thinnest atmosphere? (Note: Mercury and the Moon are considered together in this question.)

Venus, Earth, Mars, Moon/Mercury

Which planet(s) have an atmosphere that consists mostly of carbon dioxide?

Venus and Mars

Suppose we represent Earth with a basketball. On this scale, most of the air in Earth’s atmosphere would fit in a layer that is _________.

about the thickness of a sheet of paper

Why does atmospheric pressure decrease as you go higher in altitude on Earth?

The weight of the atmosphere above you decreases with altitude.

In the context of a planetary atmosphere, what is a bar?

A unit of pressure roughly equal to the atmospheric pressure at sea level on Earth.

Which of the following is the most basic definition of a greenhouse gas?

a gas that absorbs infrared light

Which of the following is not a greenhouse gas?

oxygen (O2)

Suppose that Earth’s atmosphere had no greenhouse gases. Then Earth’s average surface temperature would be _______.

well below the freezing point of water

Which of the following correctly lists the layers of Earth’s atmosphere from the ground upward?

troposphere, stratosphere, thermosphere, exosphere

Why is the sky blue (on Earth)?

Because molecules scatter blue light more effectively than red light.

Which of the following general statements about light and Earth’s atmosphere is not true?

Visible light from the Sun is absorbed in the exosphere.

What is a magnetosphere?

a region of space around a planet in which the planet’s magnetic field can trap charged particles

What is the difference between weather and climate?

Weather refers to short-term changes in wind, rain, and temperature, while climate refers to the long-term average of weather.

Which of the following describes a primary role of global circulation cells in a planet’s atmosphere?

They transport heat from the equator toward the poles.

What important change in the Sun over the past four billion years is thought to be very important to understanding the climates of Venus, Earth, and Mars?

a gradual brightening with time

Which of the following best describes the nature and origin of the atmospheres of the Moon and Mercury?

They have thin exospheres only, with gas coming from impacts of subatomic particles and photons.

Which of the following is not a characteristic of the seasons on Mars?

As on Earth, the seasons are caused primarily by axis tilt and orbital distance has virtually no effect.

Why is Mars red?

Chemical reactions between surface rock and atmospheric oxygen literally rusted the surface.

What do we mean by a runaway greenhouse effect?

a greenhouse effect that keeps getting stronger until all of a planet’s greenhouse gases are in its atmosphere

Based on everything we have learned about Venus and Mars, what is the most surprising aspect of Earth’s climate history?

The fact that the temperature of our planet has remained relatively steady throughout our planet’s history.

Which of the following statements about ozone (in Earth’s stratosphere) is not true:

The presence of ozone was crucial to the origin of life some 4 billion years ago.

How did molecular oxygen (O2) get into Earth’s atmosphere?

It was released by life through the process of photosynthesis.

What is the importance of the carbon dioxide (CO2) cycle?

It regulates the carbon dioxide concentration of our atmosphere, keeping temperatures moderate.

In the context of Earth’s climate history, what do we mean by snowball Earth?

It refers to a very deep ice age that occurred hundreds of millions of years ago.

Which of the following is not an expected consequence of global warming?

The entire Earth will warm up by the same amount.

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